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At the Mercy of Their ClothesModernism, the Middlebrow, and British Garment Culture$
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Celia Marshik

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231175043

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231175043.001.0001

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What Do Women Want?

What Do Women Want?

At the Mercy of the Evening Gown

(p.25) 1 What Do Women Want?
At the Mercy of Their Clothes

Celia Marshik

Columbia University Press

Argues that the evening gown expresses tensions between women's evolving social, sexual and economic opportunities and a sartorial genre that encodes conservative forms of femininity. Popular texts represent the dress as threatening to the women who wear it, while the professional work of modernist writers at once criticizes and expresses longing for the form. Even women who wanted to experiment with the form found themselves caricatured for doing so.

Keywords:   Evening gown, mourning dress, Virginia Woolf, Ottoline Morrell

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